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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
GameCube packs a punch
GameCube is Nintendo's new console
GameCube impresses with its launch game quality

It is small, purple, easily mistaken for a children's toy but packs a lot of power under the bonnet.

GameCube is Nintendo's answer to the success of Sony's PlayStation 2 and the raw power of Microsoft's Xbox.

It seems to have been designed with the maxim "the best things come in small packages" in mind and will easily fit in the most cluttered of households, a quality the Japanese prize highly.

One of the new launch games, Luigi's Mansion
Explore a ghost house in Luigi's mansion
It comes with four ports for controllers, an unnecessary handle, and underneath the machine there are three hidden bays which could give the machine access to the internet and to a host of add-on accessories in the future.

The controller also appears toy-like, with brightly coloured buttons, albeit a touch unresponsive, and analogue control sticks.

It is small and fits easily in the hand, although combinations of buttons can be difficult as they are placed a little too close together.

The company insists it is not aimed at children and the oft-repeated slogan "gaming is an attitude not an age" backs up some of the more mature titles that will be available for the machine.

Powerful processor

The price of the machine at 199 euros (129) also puts it within the reach of a wide spectrum of games fans.

Inside the machine lurks a powerful processor, supplied by IBM, an ATI graphics chip, and a 16-bit sound chip.

Super Monkey Ball, launch game
Super Monkey Ball has you guiding a 3D plane
A machine's ability to shift polygons - the building blocks of graphics - are a frequently quoted reference of power and the GameCube's specifications would seem to place the machine above the PlayStation 2 but below the Xbox in terms of processing power.

Unlike the PlaySation 2 and Xbox, the GameCube does not play audio CDs or DVDs, and instead uses three-inch discs based on Matsushita's technology.

Already some games are being shipped on two discs so this could be seen as a limitation for the future.

Difficult choice

The launch line-up of titles is strong and in the coming months all of the big titles one would expect to see on a leading console will be made available for the cube.

As to which console to buy: it remains a difficult choice.

Many game fans will already have a PlayStation 2 and the choice might come down to the GameCube or Xbox as an addition.

Whatever the choice, Nintendo has produced an attractive, powerful machine, with impressive titles and an even more impressive price.


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